Bowlers sweat it out for top prize in Summerland
FOR most of us that last week in December and first week in January is a time to eat, drink and be merry - but not for the region's bowlers.
Braving the heat and humidity some of the area and country's top bowlers take to the greens for the Summerland Pairs, now in it's 59th year, and the 60th Summerland Singles at Cherry Street Sports in Ballina.
And one man already in preparation for both events, the pairs from 27-29 December and the singles from 2-6 January, is Ballina's own Neil Burgess.
Burgess, now in his early 60s, loves this event and not just because there is $25,000 prize money up for grabs or that he has the singles more times than anyone else but for the comradarie and competition.
Thirty-two teams take part in the pairs while 128 will roll off for the singles.
"I've been competing in it almost since I started playing 30 years or so ago," Burgess explained.
And the former soccer player took to his new sport pretty quickly - winning his first singles title early on in his career in 1988, again in 1991, 92, 94, 95 and finally in 2005.
"I'm a old hand at it now," he laughed.
"I'm playing pretty well at the moment."
He certainly is in form, winning the prestigious local tournament - Flemmo's Day in late November.
Noel Flemming, an old stalwart of the Cherry Street club, has sponsored the Tournament for the past 11 years and it attracts the best of the local bowlers.
It is a good lead up event for the Summerland - considered one of the most prestigious events on the North Coast these days.
Burgess will be looking for his seventh title (his nearest rivals are on three) - he will also team up with Warren Wyatt in the pairs.
He said the event ends up being a lot of fun and a challenge but you get the impression he wouldn't have it any other way!